Friday, September 23, 2016

Yuck! It’s a Funky Skunk!

Fall is in the air. Unfortunately, along with the scent of pumpkin spice lattes and wood-burning fire pits comes — pee-yoo! — the unmistakable stink of skunks. It seems like I’ve caught a whiff of the unpleasant aroma almost every day this month!

So what gives? Turns out that skunk babies (a.k.a. kits) that were born last spring are starting to venture out on their own for the first time. And the inexperienced adolescents are a little jumpy around dogs, cars, people, and other perceived dangers.

When they’re confronted by a human, or any other critter for that matter, skunks would much rather flee before they launch a fragrant attack. When a skunk feels cornered or threatened, he’ll stiffen up his front legs, stomp them, and shuffle backward a little. He may also hiss and growl. When you’ve been issued that warning, just back off quickly and quietly, and the skunk may retreat, too. Otherwise, the little stinker will throw his body over his head and — still facing you — let ’er rip!

If your dog tangles with the wrong end of a skunk, don’t panic. Just saturate Fido with full-strength mouthwash, carefully avoiding his eyes and ears. Then wash him with a good dog shampoo, and rinse thoroughly. Fresh out of mouthwash? Don’t worry—this alternative formula is just as effective. Mix 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of liquid hand soap in a bucket. Then corral your pal and soak him thoroughly with the solution. Rinse well and towel him dry. Note: These two remedies work just as well on humans as they do on pets. As for your clothes, take them to the local laundromat and toss them in the washer with an alkaline detergent. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sniff Away Sniffles Solution

What’s more annoying than a case of constant sniffles brought on by ragweed allergies? Not a whole lot that I can think of!

So when allergy season hands you a runny nose that has you climbing the walls, try this ultra-simple herbal elixir. It’ll have you breathing easier in no time.

1 cup of boiling water

Put 1 tablespoon each of fresh herbs into the water, place a towel over your head to make a tent, and breathe in the fumes for five minutes. (Be careful not to scald your face — lower it slowly over the steam.)

Not into sniffing herbs? Try Grandma Putt’s favorite allergy treatment instead. Soak a washcloth in the hottest water you can stand, wring it out, and lay it across your nose and sinuses. If you keep the cloth as hot as you can, it seems to work on the same principle as hot soup or spicy food: It loosens and liquefies mucus. 

Friday, September 09, 2016

Pack Yourself a Vinegar Sandwich!

Back in the days when I toted my lunch to school, Grandma Putt relied on vinegar to keep my lunch box and thermos bottle odor-free — and this trick works just as well today. Here’s what you need to do:

Lunch box. Saturate either a clean sponge or a slice of bread in white vinegar, tuck it into the box, snap the lid shut, and leave it overnight. Come morning, rinse the box out and dry it thoroughly.

Thermos bottle. Pour ¼ cup of vinegar into the bottle, and fill ’er up the rest of the way with hot tap water. Then whisk the inside with a bottle brush, and rinse with clear water.

Bingo — in both cases you’ll have no telltale reminders of yesterday’s (or last week’s) lunch!

Friday, September 02, 2016

Five-Minute All-Star Marinade

Did you have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it summer like I did? It’s hard to believe that Labor Day weekend is already here, but I’m looking forward to spending the day with family and friends. I’ve already pulled out all of my favorite recipes so we can enjoy our summer stockpile of garden-fresh veggies.

And in case you’re wondering what I’ll be serving alongside our delicious tomatoes, asparagus, and peppers — it won’t be unhealthy hotdogs for us! Instead, I’ll be marinating chicken with a delicious marinade that not only enhances the flavor of the meat, but also delivers powerful health benefits.

Here’s the long-time family favorite recipe:

½ cup of red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp. of chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp. of chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp. of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients in a shallow bowl, and pour over your meat or poultry. Let the meat sit, covered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to eight hours. Then carry on with your usual grilling routine.

(Yield: Enough for 1 ½ to 2 pounds of meat or poultry.)


Friday, August 26, 2016

4 Ways to Conquer Summer Colds…with Condiments!

There’s nothing that makes you quite as miserable as a summer cold does. Whether you’re battling a stuffy or runny nose, a scratchy throat or one that aches, coughing, congestion, or any other symptoms of the common cold, help is a close as your kitchen. So before you drag yourself to the drugstore to stare bleary-eyed at all the OTC cold remedies on the shelves, try one or more of these spicy homemade helpers:

Horseradish. Drain clogged sinuses by taking 1 teaspoon of grated fresh horseradish up to three times a day until your symptoms subside. Horseradish works wonders whether you add it to a sandwich, spread it on a cracker, mix it into tomato juice, or eat it straight from the spoon. After you’re breathing freely again, a few teaspoons a month should help prevent future sinus woes.

Hot-pepper sauce. Fight back against cold germs by super-charging your chicken soup. Just add a generous splash of hot-pepper sauce to the pot, and slurp your way to better health. Too hot for chicken soup? Then put 10 to 20 drops into a glass of water, and drink up. Repeat the procedure three times a day until you’re rarin’ to go again.

Hot mustard. To clear up congestion, rub a generous amount of spicy brown mustard on your chest, and top it with a hot (but not burning hot!), damp cloth. The aroma of the hot mustard will clear your airways within minutes, and you’ll be breathing freely again.

Yellow mustard. Ease a sore throat with a combination of 1 tablespoon each of yellow mustard, salt, and raw honey added to the juice of half a lemon in a heat-proof container. Then pour in ½ cup of boiling water, and mix thoroughly. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm, and gargle with it two or three times. Fair warning: This remedy won’t win any awards for good flavor, but it’ll put your throat back in the swing of things fast!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bugs Bugging You? Shoo ‘Em Away, Naturally

With all the mosquitoes, flies, and other biting and stinging insects buggin’ folks in their backyards, it’s time to take action. But rather than resorting to toxic chemicals, here's how to say “back off, bugs!” the natural way.
  • Biting insects are more attracted to certain bright colors and floral patterns. So, wearing lighter shades, like khaki, yellow, or white, will draw less attention from buzzing and bothersome bugs and go a long way toward keeping you bite-free.
  • Forget the chemical insect repellents. A dab of geranium or lavender essential oil works just as well, and you’ll smell great, too!
  •  If wasps are ruining your barbecue, fill a hand-held spray bottle with white vinegar, adding a squirt or two of dishwashing liquid. Then shake it up, and let ‘er rip—those bad-news bugs will drop in their tracks!
  • Drain any areas of standing water to keep them from becoming mosquito breeding grounds. Then, to really send mosquitoes packing, overspray your yard 3 times a week in the evening with my Buzz Buster Lemonade: Mix 1 cup of lemon-scented ammonia and 1 cup of lemon-scented dishwashing liquid in a 20 gallon hose-end sprayer, filling the balance of the sprayer jar with warm water.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Attack of the Fire Ants!

The southern part of our country is cursed with several species of imported fire ants. And I’ve heard from plenty of folks over the years who tell me the little devils deliver a sting that would put any bee to shame. What’s worse, they attack in droves and the sting repeatedly. And here’s the really sobering part: Fire ants have stood up and said “boo” to just about every chemical pesticide known to man. In fact, like many other bugs, they’ve reacted to the poisonous onslaught by evolving into “superbugs” that can fend off anything the folks in white lab coats send their way.

Don’t be fooled by the visible part of a fire-ant mound — it’s only the tip of the fireberg. The excavation often extends 3 feet or more below the surface, and flitting around inside there can be as many as a quarter of a million ill-tempered ants — including up to 3,000 egg-laying queens. And in order to destroy the colony, you need to kill off every single one of those mamas. So if you’ve got one of these “castles” in your yard, don’t even think of trying to remove it yourself. Instead, call a pest-control professional, who will use one of these two weapons:

·        An insect growth regulator such as abamectin
·        Avermectin, a naturally occurring soil fungus that’s lethal to fire ants

Whatever you do, don’t let them talk you into anything more toxic — it’ll only encourage the breeding of more super ants!